Hi, thanks for your interest in speaking in tongues. I have used a Biblical chronological approach to the subject.
In the Old Testament they did not yet speak in tongues, for the Day of Pentecost had not yet come, but the prophet Isaiah foretold it,
“For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people….This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing”(Isaiah 28:11,12) (note that the Apostle Paul cites this passage as referring to tongues in 1rst Corinthians14:21)
The prophet Joel also foretold it,
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”(Joel 2:28,29) (note that the Apostle Peter cites this passage as referring to tongues in Acts2:16ff)
John the Baptist, in the Gospels refers to speaking in tongues, he usually called it being “baptized in the Holy Ghost”…
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”(Matthew 3:11)
‘And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaineth on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”(John 1:33)
Jesus referred to the overflowing gift of the Holy Ghost, as a river of living water flowing out of our belly, what a wonderful figure of speech!
“If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified).(John 7:37-39)
“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; “(Mark 16:17)
So you see, John the Baptist and Jesus himself were the primary proponents of speaking in tongues, which is synonymous with being “baptized in the Holy Ghost”.
Jesus instructed the disciples just before the day of Pentecost,
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”(Luke 24:49)
This power from on high empowered the disciples to speak in tongues, as well as perform miracles. I have observed speaking in tongues many times, but never have witnessed a miracle. I think many of the famous preachers in this day and age claim to perform miracles, but upon research, are found to be exaggerating or lying. (read “Christianity in Crisis” by Hank Hanegraaff). Be wary of all claims, they must be truthful, now the study about speaking in tongues will be documented by scripture. And if you do speak in tongues, you will realize that it is not some fabrication, but rather the instantaneous speaking of an unlearned foreign language given by God. You will experience it for yourself, and know that you could not speak that language without God giving the words.
Jesus himself instructed the apostles in the book of Acts, to wait for the day of Pentecost,
“And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth.”(Acts 1:4-8)
Luke records the day of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts,
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”(Acts 2:1-4)
Please note that all present were filled and spoke in tongues. It was Christ Jesus pouring out the Holy Ghost into men’s hearts. Luke testifies that tongues was in real languages,
“And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya around Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”(Acts 2:5-11)
Please note that the native language was the language of the Galilaeans. But that instantaneously the visitors from many nations understood them. Therefore the languages they spoke in tongues were…
How great a documentation that speaking in tongues was in real languages, and how loving and gracious that God was reaching out to all these nationalities!
Peter told the crowd that this was done by Jesus,
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses, therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”(Acts 2:32,33)
Peter assured them that if they repented and accepted Jesus Christ, they too could receive the Holy Ghost,
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and said unto Peter and the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”(Acts 2:37,38)
The wonderful account of Pentecost documents the pouring out of the Holy Ghost into men’s hearts. This really happened, it is a historical account, not an allegory. You might be thinking, well it may have worked for them, but it is not accessible for me. Remember that God is just as real today as He was in the first century.
He will honor His Word, and those who believe and walk on it. He actually empowers His Word…note the following scripture…
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
In Acts ch 4 there is another instance which is similarly worded and probably included speaking in tongues,
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.”(Acts 4:31)
Peter and the apostles heard Christians at Samaria had received the Word of God, and traveled there so as to help establish them,
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus) Then, laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:14-17)
Peter was called of God by a vision to preach Jesus Christ and minister the Holy Ghost to the house of Cornelius, which at first Peter was hesitant to do, because they were not Jews, but only Gentiles, this includes all believers now, even you and me…
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”(Acts 10:44-46)
Paul taught, instructed , and ministered the Holy Ghost to the believers at Ephesus, he made of distinction of two types of “baptism”…
“And it came to pass, that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples. He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”(Acts 19:1-6)
Paul taught about tongues in his letter to the church at Corinth,
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.”(1rst Corinthians 12:1,2)
This scripture shows that teaching is important. You see, the Gentiles generally knew only about their idols and wooden or golden and silver gods. But Paul is saying that they need to be taught about the true and living God, and be taught about the spiritual gifts, he spends much time in the epistle to the Corinthians teaching the details, the why’s and wherefore’s of speaking in tongues. We should meekly sit under his teaching and learn…
Paul teaches that when speaking in tongues, you will never curse Jesus, but rather bless Jesus, and affirm and say that He is Lord
“Wherefore, I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”(1rst Corinthians 12:3)
Paul lists Speaking in tongues with eight other manifestations of the Spirit,
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the Word of knowledge, by the same Spirit, To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the workings of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:”(1rst Corinthians 12:7-10)
[To help you remember these, I will list them categorically,]
Interpretation of tongues
Word of knowledge
Word of wisdom
Discerning of spirits
Power impartation manifestations
Above are listed the manifestations of the spirit. Note that speaking in tongues is only one of them. Below I have given brief definitions of the manifestations…
Interpretation of tongues is to be manifested when speaking in tongues in the Church setting, so that other believers will be edified in their understanding.
Prophecy is bringing a message forth in the language of the church which edifies them by way of exhortation and comfort. This is not the same as the office of a prophet, such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, who would forthtell and foretell, but is rather a gift equivalent to interpretation of tongues without the tongues, that is to say it is given only in the language of the believers present, and will edify the church by way of exhortation and comfort.(see 1rst Corinthians 14:3)
Word of knowledge is something revealed to a believer which cannot be known by the five senses, for the purpose of helping, or delivering a member or members of the body of Christ.
Word of wisdom is something revealed about an action to be taken, or often to apply the Word of knowledge previously given.
Discerning of spirits is the revelation of the presence of spirits, esp. demons or devil spirits in a person or situation.
Faith is a special gift of believing on God, especially related to performing miracles or healings.
Miracles is the performance in a Godly way of things which transcend the normal laws of physics, like turning water into wine.
Gifts of healing refers of course to healing of disease by the relatively instantaneous healing from God.
It is best to be cautious, though faith filled, with these. As you do not want to be superstitious. And you do not want to instruct someone to stop taking their necessary medicine. God is wiser than that. As a medical professional, I advise my patients to take their medicine, obey their doctors prescriptions, and pray as you go along with these therapies. You may find that as your loved ones get deathly sick, you will pray in tears, prostrate, flat on your face humbly before God.
Paul teaches also something that appears to be stating that speaking in tongues may be a language of men ,or a language of angels, I submit it to you for your consideration,
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…”(1rst Corinthians 13:1)
Paul teaches that the love of God is more important than tongues, and that tongues will end someday, but the love of God will never end!
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be tongues, they shall cease, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”(1rst Corinthians 13:8-10)
A Christian sister of mine told me she felt bad that she could not speak in tongues. My belief is that you should be zealous for it, read scripture, learn about it, pray for it. But…..I assured her that God does not love you any less if you do not speak in tongues! The love of God is the greatest thing!
“And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (“agape”, the Greek word for divine love). (1rst Corinthians 13:13)
Paul encourages the Christian to love, and also to want the spiritual gifts,
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts,”(1rst Corinthians 14:1)
Paul teaches that speaking in tongues is in a real language, but since it is God that gives the words, your mind does not understand it, and that it is speaking divine secrets, mysteries to God ,
“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”(1rst Corinthians 14:2)
A Baptist friend of mine told me that since no one could understand tongues, what was the point of speaking in tongues? Read the above verse and see that God understands the tongue, you are praying to God! She then quoted the verses from 1rst Corinthians 14 where it says “ no one understandeth him…”(ch 14:4-19)
Please read the following verses and see that speaking in tongues should be done in your private prayer life without interpreting it, as it will edify you, your spirit prays, you can also supplement it with praying with your understanding, it is blessing with the spirit, it is giving thanks well.
And then contrast it with speaking in tongues in the church which should be interpreted for the edification of the body of Christ…
Paul teaches that when you speak in tongues, you edify yourself (build yourself up),
“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself,”(1rst Corinthians 14:4)
Paul reaffirms that when you speak in tongues, your spirit prays, but your mind does not understand it,
“For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”(1rst Corinthians 14:14)
Paul teaches that when you speak in tongues, it does not mean that you will no longer be able to pray normally with your understanding,
“What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also:”(1rst Corinthians 14:15)
Paul teaches that when you speak in tongues, you bless with the spirit,
“ Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit,”(1rst Corinthians 14:16)
Paul teaches that when you speak in tongues you give thanks well,
“For thou verily giveth thanks well,…”(1rst Corinthians 14:17)
And now, by way of contrast, see how Paul teaches about speaking in tongues in the church, and how it should be interpreted.
Paul teaches that in the church setting, since no one would understand your tongue, if you were to speak in tongues you should interpret the tongue, or wait in due course and someone else will interpret it, remember in the list of manifestations that one of the manifestations is “interpretation of tongues”,
“I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying,”(1rst Corinthians 14:5)
Paul teaches the orderly way to incorporate speaking in tongues into the church service,
“If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course ; and let one interpret.”(1rst Corinthians 14:27)
It now is easier to understand what Paul is saying in the following verse…
“I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying” (1rst Corinthians 14:5)
Paul teaches that if you are in church, and there is no interpreter, to not speak in tongues out loud, but to do it privately and quietly to yourself and to God…
“But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God” (1rst Corinthians 14:28)
Finally, to summarize this point. A Christian believer can speak in tongues to himself and God, and edify his spirit, bless God, give thanks well, make intercession for the saints, and speak the wonderful works of God.
And if he speaks in tongues out loud in the church, he should interpret it, or allow another person present to interpret it ( using the inspirational gift of “interpretation of tongues”) so that the church will be edified by way of exhortation and comfort.
Also, Paul teaches that speaking in tongues serves as a powerful witness to unbelievers, as it was on the day of Pentecost,
“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not,”(1rst Corinthians 14:22)
The epistle also have what I believe are references to speaking in tongues, but sometimes do not directly say “speaking in tongues”, I submit them to you for your consideration,
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”(Romans 8:27,28)
Jude writes in his epistle,
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,”(Jude 20)
For you to speak in tongues I would give the following advice.
Become familiar with the entire Bible, and the doctrines taught in it,
GENESIS- God created everything, man sinned, God called out a people, Israel to be His people
The LAW-God gave his commandments to men to instruct in righteousness and prepare them for the fullness of love to be revealed in Christ Jesus
The PROPHETS-God instructed and reproved His people, and foretold the coming of the promised Messiah
CHRIST- the sinless messiah who performed miracles, taught love, revealed and showed God, was crucified for our sins
CHRIST’s RESSURRECTION- death could not hold the sinless Son of God in the grave
The DAY of PENTECOST- the resurrected Christ poured out the Holy Ghost into men’s hearts, and they spoke in tongues
The CHURCH EPISTLES- the Apostle Pauls detailed instructions about speaking in tongues
Once having meditated on the scriptures above, your faith should be strengthened and your understanding of speaking in tongues increased, like the believers in Samaria and Ephesus.
Pray fervently to God, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the reception of the Holy Ghost with speaking in tongues. If possible, seek out a fully instructed charismatic or Pentecostal minister to lay hands on you. (Although I personally spoke in tongues without the laying on of hands, as did the believers in the house of Cornelius in Acts 10:44)
Contrary to some teaching that is out there, there is no state of ecstasy, and God will not possess you and force you to speak in tongues.You move your own lips and speak in tongues. It is not repeating “beep beep boop boop” or any preconceived words or syllables, for remember it is the Spirit that gives the utterance(the words)(Acts 2:4)
Some say that this is not within our power to do, but I do not look at it like that. I look at it like a child asking his father for a gift, since the father loves the child, he will give him that gift. Jesus said,
“And I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you;
seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone
that asketh recieveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it
shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will
he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a
serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then,
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”(Luke 11:9-13) Thank you for completing this study, may God bless you in all your Christian endeavors. You can email comments to me at email@example.com
Thank you for completing this study, may God bless you in all your Christian endeavors. You can email comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org